CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Steven Furtick looks to pastor Ed Young as a mentor. Young admires Furtick. Young promotes big conferences around the world for pastors who want to build their own megachurches. When Young and his wife climbed into bed on the roof of their church to encourage couples to have sex every night, Furtick was one of the many pastors to Skype in.
Furtick credits Young and his C3 conference with showing him a blueprint for growing Elevation Church. The conferences are one part organization and one part motivation, and Young invited Furtick himself to speak at C3. “No conference has had a greater impact on my life and the life of our church than C3,” Furtick said in a web video. “Ed and Lisa Young showed me... the creative potential of the church.”
“Young was one of the early adopters of this new way of doing church,” said Chris Rosebrough, who runs Pirate Christian Radio from his home in Indianapolis. And Furtick patterned himself on Young in more ways than one:
- Young bought a 10,000 square foot home. Furtick bought a 16,000 square foot home.
- Young's home is worth $1.5 million. Furtick's home cost $1.7 million.
- Young put his home in the name of Palometa Revocable Trust. Furtick put his home in the name of the Jumper Drive Revocable Trust.
“It sounds like Furtick is copying almost to the letter what Ed Young is doing here in Dallas,” said Ole Anthony, a church watchdog at the Trinity Foundation in Dallas. “It's a job to them. It's a business. It's a way to make money.”
The most important connection between Ed Young and Steven Furtick? Young served on Furtick's board of overseers, which set Furtick's salary. WFAA-TV, NBC Charlotte’s sister station in Dallas, Texas, reports that Young gets a housing allowance worth $250,000 dollars a year, tax-free.
No one at Elevation Church will talk about how much, if anything, Furtick receives as a housing allowance. Executive pastor James “Chunks” Corbett confirms pastors at the church get a tax-free housing allowance, and confirms Furtick took out a construction loan to build his home.